I scribbled this in the front of a Bible my friend Carol gave me. I don’t remember why, but I guess that is appropriate, isn’t it? At once it sounds profound and simple. Had I written it just after doing some Bible study and feeling inspired? Probably. I do get inspired by my morning time with God.
Just now, I spent some time reading this Bible and came across that inscription after. I felt inspired to write, so here I go.
My daughter used to always laugh at how easily I forgot things. My husband hasn’t always found this so funny, however. Even when we were dating, I was constantly forgetting my purse somewhere. We once had to drive fifty miles back to a restaurant to retrieve my purse. I even got called into the dean’s office in high school because I’d left my purse in a class and needed a lecture, apparently, on the perils of doing that. I even had my purse mailed to me once.
Some people say it’s because I was blonde. My hair is darker now, but I still forget things. My mind does not easily focus on trivial details of life. I suppose it might be a form of attention deficit disorder. My mind gets so lost sometimes. I can be in a crowd and having fun, but my mind will be a million miles away thinking about the time I got into a fight on the playground in sixth grade, or wondering why they call someone who’s had a lot of wrecks “reckLESS.”
Sometimes, it’s good to forget things. I have forgotten a lot of details of the bad things that happened to me in childhood, and to my mom and sisters. Much of my childhood is a shadowy blur, and that is probably for the best. It could be one reason I forget things, because I made it a habit as a child, to not see, to not hear, what was happening around me. I separated myself from where I was and what I was really feeling. Even now, emotions are tricky for me. Sometimes, I will cry two days later about something sad that happened during that time. So, I suppose it makes sense that I sometimes forget things.
What I remember best are things that are important to me, like the day I first was able to hold Amber in my arms after she got strong enough to leave the incubator after her premature birth. I remember when my mom brought my baby sister home and I first saw her little face. I also remember seeing that little crusty black thing on her belly button and wondering what was wrong with her.
I remember the day my husband proposed to me. We had kind of planned this proposal, knowing for years that we would get married, but also realizing we needed to wait until we were older. I can still see him in his gray pinstripe suit, uncomfortable as all get out because he hardly ever wore suits. We had gotten a Noble Romans pizza and taken it back to his dad’s barbershop that night. We spent a lot of time in that barbershop. He knelt there, amid the hair sweepings and ashtrays and gave me a little ring. His eyes were so beautiful, his smile, so sweet.
It isn’t always the case that I forget all the bad and remember only the good. For instance, for more than two years now, I haven’t been able to get the day of Amber’s death out of my mind. My mind goes back to that day, the way her eyes looked when the life had gone out, the shock of seeing her unresponsive to me calling her name, the desolation of going home without her.
Oh, how I’d love to forget that day, but then again, I probably don’t want to, because I treasure even the beauty of that time with her. It’s as if forgetting that pain would somehow diminish the rest of my memories of her. I cling to every shred of Amber memory, even the difficult ones.
I have trained myself to forget the mistakes I’ve made, the sins I’ve committed, realizing that God forgives and forgets. But, it isn’t so easy for me. They keep coming back to my mind, and I attribute that to the accuser bringing them back up to me, trying to weigh me down with guilt. But, I do remember that my sins have been washed away, that God loves me and wants me to move forward, free of past guilt. I remember that he loves me more than he hates my sin, and that what he really wants is a growing relationship with me, not me shamed. He has taught me that clinging to guilt is really denying that His Son’s death had any power to cleanse. Refusing to forgive myself, and to forget the past, is really a refusal of grace – of the gift God is trying to give me. It is ingratitude and it hurts him. So, I have been learning to forget the junk and to remember the truths I know – that God loves me, cherishes me, and wants me to just get rid of anything that gets in between us.
I also remember that He loves and cherishes a lot of people, even people I don’t particularly like. So, I have to remember to let him help me love them too. I have to forget about the things they’ve done that I don’t like because in the end, there isn’t anything any person can do that will really hurt me. I am safe within God’s love, so there is nothing that can take that away. I can then remember that I can take the risk to be vulnerable with other people.
Yes, I remember and I forget, and somehow, I am able to make that work in my life, for the most part. If only I could remember where I put my cell phone.